Saturday, 22 July, 2017

UNESCO Recognizes Hebron Sites as Part of Palestine

Israeli border police stand guard on the site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron UNESCO Recognizes Hebron Sites as Part of Palestine
Garry Little | 08 July, 2017, 00:27

Amid heated scenes at the meeting, 12 countries voted in favour while three opposed and six abstained.

The UNESCO World Heritage committee has put the West Bank city of Hebron on its list of world heritage in danger. Rula Maayah, the Palestinian minister of tourism, said it was a "historical development because it stressed that Hebron" and its historic mosque "historically belong to the Palestinian people". Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are all later buried in the same Cave of Machpelah.

The proposal called Hebron a "Islamic" city, leading Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen to storm out of the session, denouncing the choice of language for downplaying the importance of Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs to the Jewish faith.

Global law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity on the land to be illegal.

August 23, 1929, marked the beginning of two days of murderous rioting against the Jewish population of Hebron. Many viewed Friday's UNESCO decision as the latest example of an ingrained anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and its institutions, where Israel and its allies are outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters.

In May Israel reacted furiously after UNESCO passed a separate resolution on Jerusalem (Al-Quds), and has recently prevented UNESCO researchers from visiting Hebron.

Emmanuel Nahshon, Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the move was "a moral blot", accusing UNESCO of promoting "fake history". This resolution was ratified by UNESCO's executive board in May 2017.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is an observer group at the vote in Krakow, in a statement Thursday called resolutions ignoring Jewish ties to heritage sites "greatest assault on Judaism since the Middle Ages". Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads Israel's national UNESCO committee, said after Friday's vote that "Israel will not resume its cooperation with UNESCO so long as it remains a political tool, rather than professional organization".

"Meanwhile, the Palestinians praised the move, with the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling it "the only logical and correct decision", and adding that "...

"To disassociate Israel from the burial grounds of the patriarchs and matriarchs of our nation is an ugly display of discrimination, and an act of aggression against the Jewish people", Israel's ambassador to the UN ambassador Danny Damon said. The Israeli envoy claimed he was promised the vote would take place behind a curtain, hoping that would enable delegates from moderate Arab states to reject the Palestinian-led bid. It is the palestinian's latest attempt to erase Jewish history.

Hebron has witnessed much Jewish-Arab strife and bloodshed.

The double cave, a mystery of thousands of years, was uncovered several years ago beneath the massive building, revealing artifacts from the Early Israelite Period (some 30 centuries ago).

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